Why have we started this new blog, Voices for Human Needs?
Every day we see the good that comes from investing in people. We want to celebrate the achievements of Gena and her mother. Gena’s mom was kicked out of her parents’ home and wound up in abusive relationships. “Home life was chaotic and scary,” writes Gena for Our American Story, “but then my mom enrolled us in Head Start…” Head Start helped Gena and her family, and Gena grew up wanting to give back. She got an education, became a Head Start teacher, and now is a Family Educator at Family Services of Grant County in Washington state.
But we also see the waste of failing to invest. What if, instead of nurturing a poor child through Head Start, we suspend or expel three and four year olds from preschool programs? U.S. Department of Education reports found that’s exactly what state-funded preschool programs did: 8,000 suspensions in 2011-12, and 5,000 expulsions in an earlier study, both disproportionately little boys and African Americans. Although there aren’t studies showing what happens to tots when they’re expelled, research about older kids shows that expulsions and suspensions make them more likely to drop out and have trouble with the law. Instead of setting young children up for failure, Yale School of Medicine Professor Walter Gilliam’s research on preschoolers shows that when preschool teachers can consult with mental health professionals about kids’ behavior problems, expulsion rates are cut in half.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that programs like Head Start can help people like Gena and her mother break out of poverty while ripping kids out of preschool can close the door on opportunity.
We can’t afford this waste. Our population’s proportion of young people is dropping; we need every last one of them to be well-prepared to contribute to our economic growth and to enrich our communities in other ways.
Voices for Human Needs will be a blog about choosing to invest and preventing harmful cuts. It will provide facts (see our Fact of the Week, for starters). And it will point out wrong or outrageous choices (see our regular Head Smackers feature). We’ll have posts by Lecia Imbery, CHN’s Senior Policy Writer, by me, and in coming days, by other guest experts, from service providers to policy analysts to people who have needed services. We know you are inundated with important things to read, so we’ll make our posts brief.
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